GONGOLI MASKS, Liberia

Photographs © Hamill  Gallery

GONGOLI MASKS, Liberia

These masks have been vetted as authentic with signs of age and use.

"Standing two feet high, with ungainly jutting ears, puffed-out cheeks, and grimacing teeth, this mask from the Mende people is not pretty. But prettiness was not the goal of the mask's carver. Rather, this mask, customarily worn with a costume of dead leaves and rags, intentionally challenges the standards of beauty in society. The jolting and awkward dance performed with the mask represents the ugliest and most ridiculous aspects of human nature, forcing the audience to confront both what is aesthetically and emotionally challenging." 

Yale University Art Gallery

"The Gongoli mask performed as a comic figure at village celebrations. Unlike other Mende masked characters which are silent, Gongoli speaks in a gravelly voice, mocking the chief and village elders. The mask has no sacred affiliations and can be carved and danced by anyone. Raffia, metal, white clay, red ocher and enamel are included in the materials used on this mask. Three 'tear' marks on either cheek act simultaneously as scarification andas viewing holes for the dancer."

Artists and Patrons in Traditional African Cultures
African Sculpture from the Gary Schulze Collection

From the exhibition originally held at the QCC Art Gallery in 2005, Queensborough Community College, New York

With thanks to Rand African Art

 

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